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 Walk Across Europe

2003-04-14 - Trip 1 - Leg 1

Portugal, Algarve West

Cape Saint Vincent to Vila do Bispo

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12 km today. Mini came too.
12 km this trip.
12 km from start.
29 metres minimum height.
98 metres maximum height.
122 metres ascent.
78 metres descent.
 Track Log: Reconstruction.
 Travel: Bus.

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Bus. Quiet roads, wonderful views and a wildlife garden beyond compare. Many flowers. Minimal traffic. Fantastic views.

Our goal is to walk from the south-western tip of Europe in Portugal to the south-eastern tip in Turkey.

On day one, we caught the "Eva" bus from our accommodation in Lagos (Algarve) to the start of the walk. The south western tip of Europe is at Cabo São Vicente or Cape Saint Vincent near Sagres.

At the present rate of progress the walk will take around 60 years. On completion, Neil will be aged about 110, Anne about 120 and Margaret about 140.

It's tipping it down with rain. Our original intention had been to take the slow bus from outside the Inter-Marché supermarket and go to Sagres to have another look at the site of the School of Henry the Navigator and listen to the blow holes which would have been spectacular in the high wind. As it was, we decided to wait until the express bus was due to depart and hope that the rain had abated by then. This meant going into town to the bus stop because we were not sure if that bus would stop here. It also meant getting tickets in advance at the kiosk in the bus station. A kind lady let me go in front of her because our bus was due to leave any minute.

We had taken a long time getting ready as it was our first day and we were not used to setting up our mustangs (back-packs). In the event, we had plenty of time and had a quick ride to Cabo do São Vicente passing through Sagres which has become gentrified since we were last there.

There seemed to be more going on at the cape too but this could be because of the time of year. Last time we were there it was Christmas, and I recall huddling in all my clothes behind a wall to have lunch. This time, it was bright, and after taking one another's photographs for the record, we set off at 11.50. We head back along the road towards Sagres and after ten minutes we pass the first kilometre stone. Only another 9999 odd to go!

The cistus are in full flower and the fragrance of the gum is a delight. We turn left along a track but decide it is too soon and go back. Later we realise we could probably have carried on along this route as we arrive at Vale Santo on a different axis from the one expected. We actually turn off, north, just after the 3 kilometre stone (1 hour). The very slow time even for us is because of the plethora of flowers to be photographed. We keep going now until we get to a farmstead (Vale Santo)(1 hour 30 minutes) and then bear right heading north east.

This track goes all the way to Vila do Bispo. On the way, Neil photographs 80 different flowers. He had said there would only be four or five different ones so it wouldn't take long but it did because there were lots. Along this stretch it starts to rain in earnest. We had been promised aguaceries (scattered showers) but decided to ignore these as you usually dry off after them very quickly. Not this time. We got to Vila do Bispo absolutely soaked (3 hours 45 minutes). Every time it stopped for a minute, it came down again soon after with greater vengeance.

Neil handed out mini Mars bars to keep us going. We didn't have to wait long for bus and returned to Quinta do Santo Phunurius where we stripped off and hung our clothes on the plug-in radiators to dry. My emergency jumper that I was keeping to change into had been stuffed in the bottom of my mustang and was now the wettest thing I had! I improvised some clothes for the evening. For supper we had duck à l'orange Inter-Marché style. The gravy was good but the duck was indifferent. We recall how when we once had a package holiday in Sagres, the spit of land leading to cape St Vincent was referred to by our representative as a pronomontary not worth looking at as there was nothing there. She also called our hotel (Baleeira) the Bally-are.

Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) Data

We hope to provide GPS tracks for our walks. On this leg (Portugal 2003) we did not have the receiver and software. The cost was just too high. The Portugal 2004 leg should be better documented including dead ends and aborted routes! GPS receiver and software prices came down greatly between 2003 and 2004. We will be using a "Garmin eTrex Vista" receiver with PC MapSource software using the "Roads and Recreation (Europe)" CD ROM. The Portugal data on this CD is not very detailed. We have used the MapSource software to document the Portugal 2003 walks by re-constructing from the maps. This is better than nothing but not at all accurate. More recently we have re-estimated the distances with much better accuracy using Google Earth and the measuring tool. We have also provided reconstructions of our tracks. Most of these are quite accurate. Out route was well documented and we could remember where we had walked. The middle part of the Odiáxere to Portimão route is the least certain.